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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley; Layout – Lance Nolley; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Douglas – Daws Butler; Hunter – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Plot: Douglas the dog tries to stop his hunter/master from shooting Yakky Doodle.

    One of a number of reasons the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons were popular was because they always seemed somewhat familiar. Plots and characterisations were variations on familiar old friends. They weren’t exact copies (later, they were or simply too derivative).

    So in Duck Hunting, we have a dullard dog with a variation on Daws Butler’s Slapsie Maxie voice with dialogue that occasionally reminds you of those cartoon characters based on Lennie in Of Mice and Men (though the dog doesn’t call anyone “George” in this cartoon). He’s protecting Yakky from a hunter, a bit like the dog and groundhog in the Warner Bros. short One Meat Brawl and other cartoons. And there’s a gag at the end where the hunter honks on his duck call and is blasted by rifles that suddenly and unexpectedly poke out of the reeds (well, unexpected unless you’ve watched cartoons).

    Familiar, too, is my refrain that I don’t like the Yakky character (though I like Jimmy Weldon’s performances), so I’ll just say that he’s continuing his quest to get a “mama” in this cartoon, though he isn’t pathetic about it this time. And instead of “Are you going to eat me, Mr. Fox?” we get “Are you going to have me shot, Douuuglas?” (The biggest gag in this cartoon is a running one where everyone stretches the “uh” in “Douglas”).

    There’s no Chopper in this cartoon so the Yakky-protection gags revolve around the hunter’s incompetence or the dog’s interference. They’re not particularly strong. Early in the cartoon, we hear gunfire off-scene and then Yakky scoot into the scene with “He missed me.” Not exactly a rollicking cartoon gag. The humour in the sequence evidently is supposed to stem from the voice work, where Douglas pounds his fists on the ground, having sent Yakky away to be shot, saying “Oooooh. I have dooooone a bad thing. I’m a bad dog. I do baaaad things.” (Miraculously, he speaks during part of the scene without his mouth moving). Don Messick does a nice job in this cartoon, changing his volume as his hunter character speaks to himself on occasion. I like how he gets into the long “uhhhhh” jag and has to correct himself: “Hey, Douuuuglas! Here, boy! Where are you, Douuuuuglas? There’s a duuuuuck, I mean a duck around here some place.” And Weldon’s funny when the hunter puts his rifle to the duck’s head and he lets out with a short “Eek!”

    The best gag comes early in the cartoon. Douglas sits and looks around for some ducks. Finally, he jumps up and points. “Good boy. A whole flock of them,” says the hunter, who opens fire. “Hey, yippee! I got ‘em all!” he cries and rushes out of the scene. He realises what he’s shot. “Those are my decoys,” he says, “All they’ll attract is ducks with holes in ‘em.” The hunter obviously isn’t very bright, either (or maybe he’s just nearsighted).



    I haven’t checked, but this may be the only Yakky that Foster wrote. Mike Maltese and Tony Benedict handled the series.

    Douglas’ design is very much in the studio style, and it’s very good. He looks a little slow in the head. Here’s the opening pan.



    Backgrounds in this cartoon are by Dick Thomas. The colours and tall grass designs are much like he used in another cartoon called Gone to the Ducks, starring the earlier, green-headed version of Yakky with Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.



    Bob Bentley’s animation gets the characters from here to there and that’s about it. There’s an animation error in one of the walk cycles. Yakky loses a cheek in one drawing.



    At one point, the duhhh-ing dog says “I don’t feel one way or the other.” That’s kind of how I feel about this cartoon. It’s a pleasant time-filler, but not loaded with laughs.

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  • 03/09/16--07:10: Some Notes About Top Cat
  • The success of The Flintstones in 1960 begat a number of other prime time cartoons the following season. All of them were single-season failures. One was Top Cat, which found life in reruns.

    The trade magazines followed the short trend of “adult cartoons,” and Variety published numerous little squibs on T.C. and his gang encompassing the period from when the show was in development to when it went into reruns. We’ve compiled them in one post, minus some of the longer stories about the rise and fall of “adult cartoons,” but included reviews of the debut show from both the Daily and Weekly editions. We’ve added a few other little notes from some of the other trades.

    Just as the original choices for Fred Flintstone and George Jetson never played those roles when their shows finally aired, the first voice of Top Cat was replaced with Arnold Stang. And Joe Barbera expostulated to Variety on why he thought T.C. ended up not grabbing an audience in prime time.


    October 26, 1960 (Weekly Variety)
    Hanna-Barbera's $6,000,000 For Stepped Up '61
    [Joe] Barbera additionally revealed that success of the adult cartoon series, "The Flintstones" (now airing on ABC) has keyed interest in another family-type series. Talks already have been held with Screen Gems, and H-B currently is working on a character for the series which is expected to be ready for airing next fall.

    November 7, 1960 (Weekly Variety)
    NEW HANNA-BARBERA ENTRY EYED BY ABC
    Within the next month, ABC-TV will decide whether it'll have a second Hanna-Barbera animated entry in a prime time slotting next season. Web, "under certain circumstances," has rights of first refusal on H-B product, which is sold by Screen Gems. H-B is now doing "The Flintstones," a situation comedy in animation, scheduled on ABC-TV.

    December 19, 1960
    Sponsor magazine reports Top Cat is among the shows picked up by ABC-TV.

    December 27, 1960
    Boom In TV Cartoon Production
    Hanna-Barbera was first to break the network barrier in prime time, but it had other winners going for them in syndication. These included "Rough And Ready," [sic] "Quick Draw McGraw,""Yogi Bear" and "Huckleberry Hound." Cartoonery will make another bid for network time next season with "Top Cat."

    February 6, 1961
    Broadcasting magazine lists Top Cat on the proposed ABC fall schedule at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

    February 24, 1961
    Record February TV Sales Season; ABC's $75 Mil
    New York, Feb. 23. — ABC-TV prexy Oliver Treyz disclosed today that the web has grossed over $76,000,000 for next season. Other two networks are reportedly matching that pace to make February a record selling month, especially so far ahead of the fall semester. ...
    ABC gathered in $22,000,000 from Procter & Gamble, some $7,500,000 from Alcoa and about $2,500,000 for alternate weeks of Hanna-Barbera's "Top Cat" at 8:30 Wednesday among the new buys.

    March 6, 1961 (Sponsor)
    Both the new Calvin & the Colonel and Top Cat series have been sold on this basis: $76,455 gross per program. Average for the 26 original and 26 repeats: $38,250 gross.

    March 13, 1961
    Broadcasting magazine lists Top Cat on the proposed ABC fall schedule at 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, with Bristol-Myers and Kellogg as co-sponsors.

    April 19, 1961
    Alan Dinehart 'Top' Hanna-Barbera Aide
    Alan Dinehart has been signed as associate producer on Hanna and Barbera's new fall tv cartoon series entry, "Top Cat" Dinehart will continue as associate producer on "The Flintstones."

    March 1, 1961 (Weekly Variety)
    B-M's 'Top Cat' Coin
    Bristol-Myers has decided on a half-sponsorship next season of the new Hanna-Barbera animated situationer, "Top Cat." They joined Kelloggs.
    ABC-TV, which underwrote "Cat," has slotted in Wednesdays from 8:30 to 9 p.m.
    (Note another story in the same issue said Bristol-Myers put up $2,000,000 for T.C. on Feb. 23).



    April 24, 1961 (Sponsor)
    It's been one of those program selling seasons where deals in several instances were consummated without the benefit of pilots.
    Examples: the new Robert Young show, Top Cat, Calvin & the Colonel and, possibly, the new version of Ichabod.

    May 8, 1961
    O'Shea 'Cat’s' Meow
    Michael O'Shea will be the voice of "Top Cat," the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series for ABC-TV.
    Previously set were Maurice Gossfield, Allen Jenkins and Leo DeLyon.

    June 26, 1961
    Sponsor magazine reports "Top Cat" will cost sponsors $38,000 a week.

    June 28, 1961
    Screen Gems Sets Canadian Deal
    Screen Gems foreign department has made the first sale of a series produced in Canada by a Hollywood company for Canadian broadcasting.
    Series, "Showdown," will tee up on the new CTV Network. It is the opener of a series of shows planned for Canadian production by SG, which also has sold its "Top Cat" to CTV. "Showdown" will be produced live in Montreal.
    Lloyd Burns, veepee of SG's foreign department, reported 40% increase in sales over the same period last year.

    July 19, 1961
    Weekly Variety has a lengthy story about the H-B studio, stating “A year's search was made for "Top Cat's" mouthpiece. Among hundreds who auditioned were Andy Devine, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lester, Larry Storch, Mike O'Shay, Max Rosenbloom. Arnold Stang was finally tapped.” The full story is in this blog post

    September 11, 1961 (Army Archerd column)
    GOOD MORNING: Five minutes talk and a coupla fast sketches by Hanna-Barbera were all that were needed to convince Columbia's Abe Schneider to okay a feature version of their Yogi Bear . . . Long-sold on the cartoon bar's vidpopularity, Schneider required no further proof — such as Kellogg's revelation to H-B last week that 40 million boxes of corn flakes with Yogi's birthday gift offer of a comic book is already a sellout. That's a lotta com flakes! . . . It was inevitable that this news follows the pattern of the remarkable cartoon kids: six sites have been offered to build H-B amusement parks, a la Disneyland, natch, but on a smaller scale. Rides to fit their cast of celluloiders, Yogi, Huckleberry, Flintstones, Top Cat, etc. and the habitats for the characters who will fill a three-acre studio H-B is now in the process of building . . . Current plant so busy, much dubbing done with humans on the run, such as Saturday a.m.'s session at Mel Blanc's house. You'll be happy to hear he is progressing very well.

    September 27, 1961 (Weekly Variety)
    A Screen Gems Primer On How to Promote A Cartoon (‘Top Cat’)
    ABC-TV is preeming "Top Cat" tonight (Wed.), but there was a problem originally of how to promote the cartoon series via one of tv's traditional pre-preem road tours to warm up local audiences.
    Screen Gems, the outfit that sold "Cat" to the web, solved the touring problem. SG flack chief Gene Plotnik, giving his show the edge over the three other cartoon series preeming this fall, got producer Hanna-Barabera to have Arnold Stang and Maurice Gosfield, the show's main voices, prerecord five-minutes of banter with local tv emcees. Gosfield and Stang ask the questions and spaces are left on the disk for answers, which any local performer can answer.
    That accounts for the voice part of promo. As for "bodies," Plotnik got Eaves to turn out costume replicas of the cartoon characters involved, Top Cat and his pal Benny the Ball, which are being bicycled around to ABC affils in special containers. Costumes have been worn by office boys and flack gals at the local station level, who have gestured, mimed and danced to the words of Stang and Gosfield.
    The "Cat" has played nine major markets since Aug. 15.
    Main trouble? Plotnik says that there were no press interviews as on other promo tours. "With the press these days," he says, "you can't get down the answers in advance."

    September 29, 1961
    TOP CAT
    (The $1,000,000 Derby)
    Wed., 8:30-9 p.m., KABC-TV
    Filmed by Banna-Barbera Production
    for Bristol-Myers Co. and Kellogg Co. Co-producers and directors, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera; teleplay, Harvey Bullock; camera, Frank Paiker; editor; Joe Ruby; animator, Ken Muse; music directors and composers, Bill Hanna and Hoyt Curtin.
    Cast: Voices of Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson.
    Add another telecatoon to burgeoning field with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera's new concoction of animated cats. Co-producers and directors earlier did much to start the ball rolling with their popular “Huckleberry Hound.” Thus, it is something of a disappointment to note new series' premiere episode doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. Show has every delightful element of a kiddie funny but, for the 8:30-9 p.m. timeslot, needs more depth to successfully capture all-family audiences.
    General theme, patterned after comedy vein of Damon Runyon's New York characters, involves “Top Cat” (“T.C.”) as leader of a lovable gang of alley cats which maneuvers itself through kind of slick activities that generally turn out less profitable than planned. Animation is appealing and, coupled with popularity of several known comics as voices, some charm comes through. Arnold Stang has just the right twang for title voice, with Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon and John Stephenson fitting well as regulars. Dale.

    Oct. 4, 1961 (Weekly Variety)
    TOP CAT
    With Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo DeLyon, John Stephenson
    Prods.-Dircs.: Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera
    Writer: Harvey Bullock
    30 Mins.; Wed., 8:30 p.m.
    BRISTOL-MYERS; KELLOGG
    ABC-TV (film)
    (Younq & Rubicam; Leo Burnett)
    Is ABC-TV pushing a good thing too far? On the strength of its click with "The Flintstones" last season, the web is now riding with another "adult" animation series out of the Hanna-Barbera studios which previously made its mark with the "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" kiddie-slanted cartoons. But where the moppets are fixated by virtually anything on the tv screen, adult audiences are at least one notch more discriminating and a follow-up to "The Flintstones" would have to be doubly sharp in order to justify another cartoon show.
    "Top Cat," on the basis of its Introduction last Wednesday (27), did not measure up to the demands of a prime nighttime entry. Based on the antics of a hip-talking flock of easy-living felines, "Top Cat" registered as a simple comic strip with no point of view to give it a special cutting edge. However, there's always the calculation that the millions of grown-ups who turn to the comic strips before the editorial pages in their daily newspapers will find entertainment and intellectual stimulation in "Top Cat."
    The scripting for this series strikes a jivey, wise-alecky note in a diluted neo-Runyonesque style. The opening show had occasional flashes of wit, but the patter was generally a routine brand of hip jargon. The characterizations of the various cats were amusing in an elementary sort of way and the story of their attempt to enter a horse in the big race was hardly an example of originality.
    Since "The Flintstones" has already exploited the novelty appeal of the cartoon genre, "Top Cat" will have to come up in subsequent weeks with a fresh angle to rate in the bigtime competition. Herm.

    October 2, 1961 (Broadcasting)
    Ratings (* = debut)
    Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Rating and Share
    *Top Cat (ABC) 17.9 32.7
    musical special (CBS) 7.5 14.2
    Joey Bishop (NBC) 24.8 45.5

    October 9, 1961 (Broadcasting)
    Ratings
    Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Rating and Share
    Top Cat (ABC) 13.4 23.1
    *Checkmate (CBS) 17.2 29.5
    Joey Bishop (NBC) 23.5 41

    October 11, 1961 (Weekly Variety)
    WBKB, Chicago, again is doing Barnumesque exploitation for the new shows on parent network, ABC-TV. As It did last year, the Chi o&o again is calling particular attention to certain new series by sending gag reminders of the premieres to the various tv editors.
    For "Top Cat," for instance, the station sent out symbolic trash cans (large size), packaged smartly and delivered by Marshall Field & Co.

    November 1, 1961 (Weekly Variety)
    ‘Untouchables’ Other ABC Shows In Client Trouble
    Because of the unexpectedly slow rating start this season on many of its participating hour and regular half-hour programs, ABC-TV is up against a series of unsettling events all stemming from Madison Ave. ...
    Bristol-Myers is known to want out of "Top Cat," which makes another sponsor retreat in the fateful week past for ABC.
    Last of the known rough situations is that Whitehall Pharmacal has left its position on "Calvin & the Colonel," which like "Cat" is a new ABC-TV animation series. Furthermore, Lever Bros., the other "Calvin" sponsor, has allegedly got a deal whereby it is picking up little more than time charges at the moment.

    November 21, 1961
    ABC-TV Talks Of Exhuming ‘The Rebel’ If Top Cat Is Skinned Of Sponsor
    ABC-TV is negotiating for revival of "The Rebel," telefilm series that starred Nick Adams on the network last two seasons. Web is talking about renewed "Rebel" as midyear replacement for "Top Cat," Hanna-Barbera animation series now in 8:30 p.m. Tuesday niche.
    If such a deal jells it would mark one of few times an axed vidpix skein has been exhumed after going out of production and may be unique in that It would return to the network which dropped it.



    November 22, 1961
    DESPERATE BIDS TO KEEP CLIENTS
    The new tv season is only two months old, but this is already the week when a lot of 'programs on the three networks come up for grabs. For this is the week when notification on cancellation occurs on all the dubious entries on which sponsors have committed themselves for 13 weeks. ...
    There's a plot afoot at ABC to move both "Top" Cat" and "Calvin and the Colonel" into Saturday night as back-to-back 7:30 to 8:30 cartoon entries, thus filling the gap by the vacating of "Roaring '20s." Both cartoon shows in their present berths are hurting.

    Slang's "Cat' Prowl
    Arnold Stang leaves Friday for three-week tour on behalf of "Top Cat," Hanna-Barbera telecartoon series for which he dubs vocals. Actor, accompanied by Arnold Carr, visits Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and New York and will cut individual promotions for use In each area on radio and television. He returns Dec. 8.

    December 1, 1961
    ABC-TV Orders 4 More Segments Of ‘Top Cat’
    ABC-TV has ordered four more segments of Hanna-Barbera's "Top Cat" to round out an even 30 which will take the cartoon series through March. Understood the extra episodes allow for enough repeats to finish out the season. Cartoonery is also expecting orders from Kellogg for further segments of the nationally syndicated (190 markets) "Quick Draw McGraw,""Huckleberry Hound" and "Yogi Bear."

    December 13, 1961
    Despite ‘Bad Season For TV Cartoons’, Hanna-Barbera Readying 5 More
    Hanna-Barbera Productions is readying five new half-hour animation projects, despite acknowledgment by Joe Barbera yesterday that "It's been a pretty bad season for cartoon shows." Scripting the new projects are Warren Foster, Mike Maltese, Tony Benedict, Harvey Bullock, Ralph Wright, Jack Raymond and Dalton Sandifer.
    Hanna-Barbera ignited the animation trend with their success via "The Flintstones," but neither H-B with its "Top Cat" nor any of the other new animation entries have even faintly approached the success of "Flintstones."
    Barbera opined that it's been a dismal season for the new cartoon shows because (1) "from Monday through Thursdays animation shows shouldn't be on after 8 p.m." and (2) "I don't think there is enough talent around to make these shows."
    He said H-B Productions is setting up a training course to develop animators, writers and others needed for animation entries. Barbera pointed out "for 15 years not one new person was trained for this business. Movie cartoons were going downhill during that period. Consequently people left the business to write comic books, become artists, turn to other fields. So suddenly we are faced with a great shortage in talent, writing, all the means we need for animation." He admitted H-B's own new entry, “Top Cat,” has had its troubles, but a attributed it to the time slot on ABC-TV, and added the network recently picked the show up for four more segs, making it 30.
    As for the company's new product, he said, "We want to prove there is nothing wrong with a good cartoon show.""The Flintstones" is currently being seen in 39 countries, he added. Barbera said he was not free to disclose the names of his new properties at this time.
    (The Weekly Variety version of the story said they would be presented to Screen Gems execs in N.Y. in January).

    December 27, 1961
    Demise of the Steve Allen show on ABC-TV, opening up the Wednesday 7:30 to 8:30 periods effective next week, has cued a reshuffling of the network schedule and the earmarking of the 7:30 to 8 period for a news program. A top news man has been chosen to helm the program. (Although the network ain't saying, it's understood to be Howard K. Smith, CBS-TV's former Washington bureau chief who ankled that network as result of a policy hassle.) The new program will premiere Feb. 14.
    Going into the 8 to 8:30 Wednesday slot will be "Straightaway" in a moveover from its present Friday 7:30 period. Going into the Friday period will be the animated "Top Cat" series in a switchover from Wednesday at 8:30, and taking over the Wednesday 8:30 period will be the new "Room for One More" half-hour series.

    April 2, 1962 (Broadcasting)
    Transogram Inc., New York, has bought Top Cat, ABC-TV program which will occupy Saturday, 11:30 -12 noon slot next fall. Agency: Mogul, Williams & Saylor, New York.


    As you can see, Top Cat was already in trouble about six weeks after it debuted. Vernon Scott of United Press International reported on December 1st that replacements for T.C. had been developed by Hanna-Barbera, including The Jetsons and a show starring the Gruesomes.

    Despite Top Cat owing a lot to Phil Silvers’ Sergeant Bilko and characters in Runyon novels, neither of which are aimed at children, Top Cat did well during kid time on Saturday mornings and in syndication. If it hadn’t, the show wouldn’t still have large numbers of fans today.

    You can read more Top Cat-related posts here.

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    Mention the cartoon “Miss Solar System,” and the first thing that will pop into someone’s head is the “Bill Spacely” song belted out by Jane Jetson. But Barry Blitzer’s story is chock-full of early ‘60s pop culture references.

    The Flintstones had a habit of adding “rock” or “stone” to someone’s name to make it sound more Stone Age-y. Sometimes, it was creative. Eventually, it got obvious and tedious. The Jetsons did the same thing, using “space” or something similar to evoke the universe. So we have George Jetson watching the Fred Solarvan Show with special guest Gina Lolajupiter. The Ed Sullivan variant is okay but let’s face it: “Lolajupiter” isn’t even a pun on “Lollobrigida.” It’s “we need a name and this will have to do.” The Jetsons did this kind of thing with varying degrees of success. When George shoos Elroy away, the younger Jetson grumbles “Gina whiz” instead of “Gee whiz.” Whether that was Daws Butler ad-libbing, I don’t know, but it’s a better pun than the character’s name. (Later, we get “Irving Galaxy” for “Irving Berlin.” Uh, yeah).

    Pay TV was a concept in the early ‘60s and it’s with us in the future. George has to feed the meter to keep the screen from going blank. And, at the press of a button, he has 3-D TV with characters zooming into his living room. Not an original gag (the John Sutherland industrial cartoon “Your Safety First” did it in 1956) but a fun one nonetheless.



    As you can see, George Jetson has a flat-screen TV, something that certainly was in no one’s home until at least a generation after this cartoon was made. We’ll get to more inventions in a minute.

    The Rent A Rocket commercial that George watches is a parody of the Hertz ads of the day where a guy zoomed from the sky and landed in a rental car—“Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat” was the tag line. In this case, it’s the “pilot’s seat” and the guy goes through the car after landing in it.



    Ed Sullivan used to introduce celebrities who were in his studio audience, then the director would turn the camera on them as they waved. Blitzer parodies that by having Solarvan forget the name of the celebrity he is introducing (Sullivan was known to muck up names on occasion) and check his little card.

    When George pays more attention to Gina than his wife and her new outfit, he protests that he was watching “The Stuntley-Dickley Report,” a play on NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report,” the network’s 6 p.m. newscast. Later in the cartoon, George jokes to Mr. Spacely that if his wife catches him judging the Miss Solar System contest on TV “you’ll be another case for Dr. Ken Spacey,” a reference to the Ben Casey show popular on TV at the time (Hmm. The Flintstones had a “Gina Lolabrickida” and a “Dr. Len Frankenstone”). Spacely puts on a mask and says “You’ve heard of the Mystery Guest?” Yes, Mr. Spacely, I have. And it’s nice to know people in the future remember What’s My Line?, too. But the best reference comes in the same sequence when the cartoon tosses in a nod to another Hanna-Barbera character. George observes “As Yogi Bear would say, ‘You’re smarter than the av-erage boss’!” Best of all, the line is delivered by Daws Butler in his Yogi voice.

    Jetson gets a chance to sing a Spacely Sprockets signature tune where he spells the name of the company, similar to the old “J-e-l-l-o” jingle popularised on the Jack Benny radio show in the 1930s and still heard on TV in the ‘60s.

    Zsa Zsa Gabor is referenced in the cartoon as well. Jean Vander Pyl does her voice as Miss Saturn while Gina’s voice by Janet Waldo owes something to everyone’s favourite Hungarian, um, actress. As you might guess, the whole beauty pageant is a takeoff on the Miss America pageant where emcee Bert Parks crooned “There she is, Miss America!” Blitzer’s lyrics, wonderfully sung by Howie Morris, who rises an octave at the end:

    Miss Solar System, she’s the queen
    She’s the fairest we have seen.
    From the brightest galaxy
    She, our queen, will ever be.


    A camera and cameraman, in silhouette, are on an overlay moved into the foreground of the long-shot scene of Jane slowly flying toward the judge’s table to receive her crown. It isn’t necessary to the plot but adds to the atmosphere of the scene.

    The layout and design people outdid themselves in this cartoon. The original credits were torn off these cartoons about 30 years ago and the current versions don’t reveal who is responsible. It’s a crime (fie on the replacement gang credits, say I). But let’s look at some of the designs. The cartoon opens with Jane trying on various new dresses. She hopes to please George. Naturally, George doesn’t notice (being an exaggerated husband stereotype, he improbably calls Jane’s electric, neon-trimmed dress as “an old housecoat”) and that prompts Jane to enter the Miss Solar System pageant.



    The Miss Solar System contestants, including Miss Big Dipper, Miss Satellite, Miss Comet and Jane as Miss Western Hemisphere. The searchlight effect is really great. Is it a cutout on a cel laid over the animation?



    Inventions: the pneumatic transporter tube, the robot visiphone, the teletape player (recording tape was still reasonably new in the early ‘60s), the automatic groomer and a robot vacuum cleaner that also empties ashtrays and serves coffee (Rosey evidently had a day off).



    More background drawings. This version of the Spacely Sprockets office is in the sky. And I like the silhouette audience at the beauty pageant.



    The animation, as best as I can tell, is by Carlo Vinci and Hugh Fraser. They were a good pairing. It looks like Carlo takes up the first half. He’s got a great butt-turning, high-stepping walk for George. Look at the stretch he gives Spacely’s mouth. Later in the scene, Jetson runs off the TV screen in one of those great Vinci drawings with Jetson’s body curved back and leading with a bended knee.



    Here are a couple of drawings from a little Carlo dance.



    This eye take is about as dancing as Hanna-Barbera got in 1962. And you can see one of Hugh Fraser’s stretched heads on the emcee (thanks to Howard Fein for the ID). It’s not as stretchy as he used to do on those TV Popeyes he animated.



    Judy Jetson doesn’t appear in this cartoon, but Janet Waldo provides some voices. Mel Blanc and Howie Morris provide additional voices, along with Jean Vander Pyl. She’s Mrs. Spacely. I love how she berates her husband and eventually goes “blah, blah, blah,” which is funnier than any real words and it’s how her husband would hear her anyway. I suppose it makes sense that she’d appear out of nowhere at the beauty pageant. Checking up on her husband, I imagine. (Emcee: "And now, a word from our sponsor." Sponsor Spacely, being dragged off by his wife: "HELLLP!"). By the way, if Spacely thinks Jetson is such an imbecile, and can’t put up with him, why does he have him go to the beauty pageant with him?

    Oh, and for anyone wonder, Penny Singleton does not sing as Jane. The voice belongs, I understand, to session singer Betty Jane Baker, who also did the “Rockenspiel” jingle for Wilma Flintstone.

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    Someone at the Hanna-Barbera comic art department tried a little experiment 50 years ago this month. At least it appears that way. Unfortunately, the scans I have of the comics for March 1966 aren’t all that good so it’s tough to see.


    The March 6th comic features different lettering for Pebbles. And Dino talks (to himself) in this one. There are also panels with no background; solid colour was used. It’s odd, considering how elaborate some of the drawings for these comics could be. I wonder if someone was behind a deadline and had to hurry to get the comic out or if it was deliberate on the part of Gene Hazelton to see how a more minimal comic would go over. Certainly by the early ‘70s, the Flintstones comics had less detail.


    Lots of cars in the March 13th comic. Now you know that dinosaurs say “Ghornk.”


    Another “What’ll they think of next?” gags lands in the panels of March 20th. Too bad they’re not so visible but I like the streetscapes. There’s a little lizard in the first panel, second row, and it appears the lady pedestrian is glaring at the driver stopped in front of her.


    I don’t know what Wilma’s so sad about in the March 27th comic. Fred is taking out the garbage, isn’t he? Betty gets a gratuitous line.

    Click on any of the comics to try to make them bigger.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – John Freeman; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervison – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Adventurers Club Head, Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Major Minor – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions
    Plot: Major Minor pretends to run a travelling road show to capture ham actor Snagglepuss.

    The best Snagglepuss cartoons were filled with plots taking ridiculous but logical turns and clever plays on words. The average ones had enough catchphrases and silly lines so they weren’t a total loss. Footlight Fright is one of the latter. There’s nothing uproariously funny, but if you like Snagglepuss, you’ll smile through this one.

    It opens with the Adventurer’s Club (apparently there is only one adventurer) drumming out Major Minor for his continued failures to capture Snagglepuss. Maltese’s story is a parody of how soldiers were drummed out of the army with their epaulettes ripped off and so on. Maltese decides that the major should be divested of his wildebeest whistle. He never wore one in other cartoons, but Maltese seems to have decided “wildebeest” was a funny word, so into the dialogue it went. As John Kricfalusi has reminded Hanna-Barbera fans, you can tell Walt Clinton’s layout work in the early cartoons because the animator drew human characters with ears at collar length. You can see that in this cartoon. Bob Bentley is the animator, though there’s nothing distinguishing about his work here that I could spot. Bentley worked in the Tex Avery unit at MGM and for Frank Tashlin at Warners, among many places, so he got around. “Now, go!” says the Englishman leader of the Club, “And never dampen our teacups again!”

    The next portion of the plot is where Maltese generally shines with Snagglepuss—when the pink cat fills the scene with a monologue. Snagglepuss is on the phone, leafing alphabetically through the Yellow Pages trying to get a job acting on stage, but getting hung up on during his increasingly desperate spiel. “As I was sayin’ sir, I know Shakespeare, Ibsen, Longfella. Shortfella, even.” Next call: “Hello, Acme Bookin’ Agency? Your actin’ worries are over. For I play to standin’ room only. Sittin’ room only? I’ll tell you what. I’ll sell popcorn in the lobby. I’ll pop it, peddle it and pay for it, even. Give me a chancst.” Finally, he calls Zylvester Z. Zyzyr (“If ZZZ won’t have me, I’m zunk”). I really like the background colours in Snagglepuss’ cave. When the cartoon first appeared on TV, kids would have been watching them on a black-and-white set so they wouldn’t have been able to appreciate Monty’s various shades of green. Here are some more of his backgrounds. The exteriors are stylised, the interiors have shading.



    The plot carries on with Major Minor pretending to be a road show impresario (“lured by the fragrance of greasepaint, the sound of applause and all that show biz jazz”) to capture Snagglepuss. The cat falls for the bait and auditions on a mobile stage. Maltese evokes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Snagglepuss’ monologue: “Ere the mockin’bird is mockin’ and long before the dawn hath gone, I’ll be waitin’ ‘neath the balcony with knees a-knockin’. Just call me Snag ‘cause my name ain’t John. Ta ta! Curtain!” The stage turns out to be a cage. (“Heavens to Claustrophobia! I’ve been iron curtained,” he tells us when the metal bars clang down).



    Snagglepuss tries to bluff his way out by pretending to be a motorcycle cop but the Major catches on (Major: “Acting? Is that what that was?” Snagglepuss: “Oh, that I should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous critics.”). The Major is welcomed back into the Adventurers Club and is set to blast Snagglepuss with his rifle (“fortunes of the hunt and all that jolly rot”) but Snagglepuss cleverly makes a last request—a performance on stage in front of the Club members. Incidentally, Bentley isn’t big on matching shots from scene to scene. Here are consecutive frames.



    The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss announcing 12 hours of sonnets, which quickly bore the adventurers. The shot is cut to an empty theatre. “Heavens to no taste,” Snagglepuss declares and exits (“actor at liberty”) stage left to end the cartoon.

    I must admit I’m puzzled by Snagglepuss’ final performance. The lines go:

    It isn’t that I love Caesar less, but that I love Rome more.
    Alice Rome, that is.


    Who is Alice Rome? Is this just an arbitrary gag or was there someone (or a movie/TV/book character) with that name when this cartoon was made?

    Hoyt Curtin’s cues from Loopy de Loop work their way into the score, and the last sequence uses a nice medium-slow accordion version of the Snagglepuss theme.

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  • 03/23/16--07:00: Prime Time Huckleberry Hound
  • Hanna-Barbera’s syndicated shows for Kellogg’s—Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear—appeared in the early evening hours, a perfect spot for them in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The time period was traditional for kid programming, dating from the radio days of Superman. News programming was still only 15 minutes, so stations needed to fill the time with something.

    However, 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m. were good hours to attract parents, as the average suburban dad would be home by then. Thus the Hanna-Barbera shows attracted a large following of adults, and that prompted John Mitchell of Screen Gems to push Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera into making a cartoon more adult-focused that could run in prime time. Thus The Flintstones was born and became a huge success.

    But what of Huck and Yogi? Since adults watched them, could they be prime-time stars, too?

    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera apparently thought so.

    To the right, you see an ad for a Huck and Yogi show in prime-time, apparently consisting of reruns of cartoons that had aired in the early evening slot for Kellogg’s. The Milwaukee Journal’s Donald H. Dooley wrote about the show in his “Studio Notes” column on September 23, 1962.

    TV CARTOON shows did not fare very well last season with adult audiences. “Calvin and the Colonel,” which used the voices of Amos and Andy, expired at the end of the season, as did “Top Cat,” which sounded like the old “Sgt. Bilko” show.
    “The Flintstones” survived and the jet age counterparts of these stone agers, “The Jetsons,” begins the new season today.
    Some TV people, however, feel there might still be some life in cartoons aimed at adults, and this season Milwaukee is a test market for their belief. “The Best of Huck and Yogi,” the tester, started here Tuesday [September 18] on WISN-TV (channel 12, 9:30-10 p.m.). If the series catches on here, adults all over the country might see the show next season.
    The weekly shows are excerpts from recent programs aimed at children, “Yogi Bear” and “Huckleberry Hound.” Yogi’s voice, Daws Butler, said:
    “This is for adults only. In fact, I’ve always maintained that these shows were much too good to be wasted on kids.”
    Interestingly, the Milwaukee station was a CBS affiliate, so it was bumping network programming in prime time to run Huck and Yogi. A week after its debut, it was moved to Monday night opposite a potpourri of shows on the NBC affiliate (including Don’t Call Me Charlie!”) and the second half of Ben Casey on the ABC station. On October 15th, for example, the cartoons were “Price For Mice,” “Sir Huckleberry Hound” and “Robin Hood Yogi.”

    The experiment lasted until December 17th. The following Monday, the smarter-than-the-average bear, the meeces and oh-so-merry Huck were replaced with Stump the Stars. There’s no indication what the ratings were for the programme or if “Best of” ran in any other cities. It appears their regular sojourn into prime time had ended.

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  • 03/26/16--07:13: Mark of the Mouse Cycles
  • I really enjoy the way Carlo Vinci handled cycle animation in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In a bunch of cartoons, he had different kinds of cycles with something interesting going on; it wasn’t just the same old six drawings showing a character running every time.

    To give you an idea, here are a few cycles from Mark of the Mouse, a 1958 Pixie and Dixie cartoon. Dixie disguises himself as the TV character named in the title, a Zorro-like character, who is easily dispatched by Mr. Jinks until the real Mark shows up.

    Dixie is given a four-drawing run cycle. Notice how Carlo rolls Dixie’s head. In other run cycles at H-B, on Jinks, Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone and even George Jetson, he would give characters a butt roll. The angle of the right leg/foot in the third drawing can be found in Carlo’s animation elsewhere at the studio.



    Now the drawings in a cycle, slowed down somewhat from what is in the cartoon.



    This is a four-drawing run cycle of Mr. Jinks. The head looks like it’s in the same position but you can see in the cycle, it’s not. Carlo has made four separate drawings of the cat running with the sword.



    Again, this is slower than in the actual cartoon.



    This is a four-drawing run cycle of Mr. Jinks, too. But Carlo doesn’t use the same one. In the cycle above, Jinks is angry. Below, he’s kind of hamming it up because he’s pretending he’s afraid of Dixie as the Mark of the Mouse.



    Here it is in an endless, slower loop. I love the churning fists. The head is on a separate cel. Carlo used this cycle only once, in this cartoon, and never again. If this cartoon had been made at Filmation, the cycle would have been used in every single cartoon. Maybe three times.



    Here’s a six-frame cycle of Jinks bouncing using three drawings. Note the low crotch in the second drawing. Again, the muzzle is on a separate cel. Drawing one is on one frame, drawing two is on two frames, drawing one is repeated, then drawing three is on two frames. That’s the cycle.



    Now, the completed cycle.



    There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned electric socket gag, is there? This cycle has two drawings of the electric lightning over top of two different drawings of Jinks, creating a four-frame cycle. The drawing of Jinks is held for two frames while one version of the lightning is used in the first frame, then the second version is used in the second frame. Then the wavy version of Jinks is held for two frames while the two lightning drawings are re-used.



    And the finished cycle, slightly slower than on screen.



    My favourite animation is a little later in the cartoon when Carlo draws a skeletal version of Jinks alternating with a silhouette version. I won’t post a cycle version, just a couple of the drawings. You’ll notice the same yellow electric lightning is used behind Jinks that’s in the previous cycle.



    The animation in this cartoon isn’t as smooth at it became in Pixie and Dixie cartoons even a year later and Carlo doesn’t stick anywhere close to a model sheet, but that’s part of what makes these early cartoons so much fun.

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    A month ago, we posted a Huckleberry Hound story from the Hanna-Barbera Golden Book Treasury, a compilation of various Hanna-Barbera stories that were published in Golden Books for kids. I love Quick Draw McGraw so allow me to post another one contained in the Treasury.

    The story is by Carl Memling. He’s no Mike Maltese. But then who is? Plus his audience for this book is aimed at young children, not a mass audience (including adults) like the Quick Draw cartoon show was. Memling was born Carl Cohen on January 18, 1918 (he legally changed his name in 1954) and died on October 18, 1969 in Queens, New York. He wrote a number of children’s books.

    The art is by Hawley Pratt and Al White. Pratt should be known to cartoon fans as Friz Freleng’s longtime layout man. I don’t know what White did besides Golden Books; we have plenty of comic fans reading who probably have the answer.

    You can click on each picture to make it bigger.



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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Tony Benedict; Story Director – Lew Marshall; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Narrator, Desperado, Bank Teller, Engineer – Daws Butler; Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Yakky Doodle tries to make friends with a bad guy in the Old West.

    Yakky: Did I do something wrong?
    Desperado: Did you do something wrong? (Laughs). Yeah. You were born.

    Yes, Mr. Desperado, I feel the same way.

    I don’t want to keep whining about how much I hate Yakky Doodle’s whining. But it really is annoying. This cartoon’s a really good example why.

    It starts out with the duck moaning about being tired and lonely and having “no mamma to watch over me.” He tries making a friend of an armed Western bandit who decides to shoot him. But no. The bad guy takes pity on the duck who spouts a last request to his mamma: “Just tell her that I won’t be home for supper. Ever again.”

    Wait a minute. Didn’t he just say he didn’t have a mamma? Why does he suddenly have one? I could understand if Yakky were playing some kind of con-artist trick on the bad guy, so beloved by Warners cartoon characters of the 1940s. But he’s not. And several times in the course of the cartoon he goes from morose and tearful to instantly bright and cheery. Of course, if the duck accepted the fact he’s a ruddy pain and nobody wants him, we wouldn’t have any cartoon.

    Tony Benedict comes up with four gag sequences for the cartoon as Yakky unwittingly ruins every attempt by the unnamed bad guy to commit a crime, though two are similar. “Mr. Desperado,” as Yakky keeps calling him, tries to rob a bank. He pulls out Yakky from his holster instead of a gun (“Bang! Bang! Bang!” shouts the smiling duck). This gives the bank teller time to shoot at the bandit. The same thing happens when the crook tries to rob a stagecoach. The duck interrupts the proceedings with an apology, giving the people on the stage time to fire their rifles at the bad guy (with a crudely-drawn blast effect).



    The other two sequences have the bad guy butted in the butt by a steer he tries to rustle when Yakky jumps on his hat and pushes it over his eyes, and getting clobbered by a locomotive engineer with a shovel after Yakky warns him the bad guy is going to rob the train.



    The cartoon ends with the bad guy in jail. Yakky asks if they’ll still be friends when he gets out. The desperado says he’ll be in for 99 years. “You’re lucky, pal, you didn’t get life,” observes the laughing duck as the cartoon irises out.

    Dick Lundy, known for his artistry with another duck at Disney some 25 years before this cartoon, is the animator. I really liked his work when he first arrived at Hanna-Barbara; he had some really funny extremes. By 1962, the studio’s cartoons were getting watered down. Lundy seems to have liked big eyes and big pupils in this one. He also draws Yakky doing the palm-up, finger-raised that John Boersma and other animators at the studio used.



    Dick Thomas’ backgrounds feature the sketchy grass and mesa shading you’ll find in other cartoons. Tony Rivera did a nice job of designing the steam train.



    Here’s part of the background in the opening pan. A narrator opened to put the story in an old west setting and then disappeared, which seems to be the usual procedure for narrators in H-B cartoons after Charlie Shows left the studio in 1959. Hoyt Curtin has a nice woodwind-ish, clip-clop cue to start the cartoon.


    The rest of Curtin’s music should be familiar from other 1959-62 short cartoons and The Flintstones. It sets an appropriate mood.

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    Yogi vs Ranger Smith. Cindy vs Yogi. And Yogi demonstrating he’s smarter than the average bear. That pretty much sums up the Sunday Yogi Bear newspaper comics from 50 years ago this month.

    One lovely version came from an internet web site. The rest are from newspapers on-line in various states of ill-repair (why there is a dark line down the middle of each page of the Buffalo Courier, I don’t know.


    Yogi finds ingenious ways to outsmart Ranger Smith. In the TV cartoons, he seems to get punished for his creativity more than in newsprint. This is from April 3rd.


    Lots of little animals that H-B comic maven Gene Hazelton loved in the April 10th comic. I like the look of the wind against Yogi and Boo Boo.


    The idea of practical jokes comes up for the second comic in a row. This April 17th comic is tough to see because the Courier’s photocopied version of the newspaper came out a little dark. The artist gets in a variety of poses for Yogi.


    Ah, more woodland creatures in the April 27th comic. I’m not a Cindy Bear fan with her Leila Ransom-like gushing over Yogi but I like the idea of her standing up for herself in this comic. There’s varied perspective in the layouts and a silhouette shot.

    You can click on any of the comics to try to see them a little better.

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  • 04/09/16--07:05: Jetsons – Las Venus
  • Why can’t sitcom characters just be honest?

    Why can’t they say “Honey, the boss has forced me to have dinner tonight with a female client to get a contact signed”? No, sitcom writers would rather drag out the anxious-married-man-has-uncomfortable-dinner-with-beautiful-single-woman plot. We know how it’s going to end, because the plot never changes. The wife and the woman come face-to-face in the climax scene, the misunderstanding is cleared up and the husband and wife tag out the show happy and hugging.

    That’s what we get from Barry Blitzer in the Jetsons episode “Las Venus.”

    And why is it that boss Spacely thinks George Jetson is an imbecile but still has him close out important business deals?

    Sorry, but the plot in this one is a little too old, tired and predictable for my liking, though Blitzer adds a little change at the end. So let’s, instead, concentrate on the best part of any Jetsons episode that isn’t named Astro—the designs.

    George is taking Jane on a second honeymoon to Las Vegas, which has morphed for futuristic space pun purposes as Las Venus. The Jetsons, of course, is a product of the early ‘60s, a time in Vegas of flashing neon and the Rat Pack, where a little casino action translated into innocent fun (and generally within one’s financial means for the average suburbanite). The various casinos we see in this episode all have bright lights going on and off and the designs, as usual, are imaginative. Click on them to make them bigger.



    Dean Martian is about the only nod to the Rat Pack in the cartoon. I thought Frank Star-natra might be part of the bill, but we get enough “star” celebrity puns. George refers to that great dancer Fred Astar. And we get a performance from Starence Welcome, wunnerfully voiced by Daws Butler. I like how the dialogue refers to “space bubble music” but there are no bubbles in the scene. Bill Hanna saves on the animation budget.


    Blitzer has some billboard sight gags. Note the parody of Williams Lectric Shave, which was advertised all over the place on TV in the ‘60s. The Cosmic Cola ad has an animated cycle of the Martian kids drinking while the lipstick ad talks to George who just can’t stop being distracted by women.



    The credits were removed from the episode about 30 years ago so the cartoons in circulation now don’t tell you who is responsible for these great backgrounds. Or the animation, for that matter. My guessing average is pretty lousy for the Jetsons. I can safely say that several animators worked on it because George looks different in various parts of the cartoon. Whoever did the opening animation (and I believe he’s back at the end) has odd mouth movements. George exhibits a row of teeth, lip-biting and some tongue biting, too. George has a long neck.



    What would a Jetsons cartoon be without a motorcycle traffic cop? This one includes a judge on a TV screen giving a ticket. The cop has those roundish eyes that I’ve seen Dick Lundy and Bob Bentley draw at Hanna-Barbera.

    A different animator is at work here, giving George several facial expressions as he hears Jane win a jackpot from a robot one-armed bandit. He’s cross-eyed, beady-eyed and a little cockeyed in some of the drawings, though I’m only posting a few examples.



    Here’s part of a take later in the act when Spacely promises Jetson a shapely secretary. I’ll bet this is Don Patterson’s work here; he did a Fred Flintstone drawing once with swirling eyes and head tilted in the same way (with a little open mouth).



    Part of one more take from later in the cartoon. George’s mouth is great. George Nicholas drew takes similar to this but it doesn’t look like his work.



    And a couple of exit-from-frame drawings. George becomes an outline while G.G. (Gigi) Galaxy leaves behind a few multiples.



    Besides the regular voice cast, Jean Vander Pyl dips into her voice collection and borrows Tallulah Bankhead for Miss Galaxy (it’s also her Mrs. J. Evil Scientist voice). She may have the best line in the cartoon; it’s a Groucho-like play on words: “In the meantime, I’ll take a good old-fashioned bath. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the expense filling the tub with old fashioneds.” Don Messick has a bunch of roles, repeating his Uniblab voice for one of the mobile robot slot machines (Barry Blitzer also wrote the great episode where Uniblab turns himself into a robot gambling casino), and playing the cop. Mel Blanc is Spacely, Judge Fairly of Lunarville, a robot one-armed bandit and the doorman at the Las Venus Venus.

    Whether Hoyt Curtin wrote some cues with this episode specifically in mind, I don’t know, but his space samba music heard in several cartoons (someone can tell me if a theremin is used) is worked into the plot of this one. One really interesting cue is when the scene cuts to a background drawing of the dog kennel where Astro is staying while George and Jane are in Las Venus. It’s a flute version of the Augie Doggie theme that was also used in the Pixie and Dixie cartoon Pied Piper Pipe.

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    This blog was started ages ago because of stock music cues. The intention was to have a place on the internet listing the library music heard behind the cartoons in The Huckleberry Hound Show’s first season, along with some random notes and screen grabs about each cartoon. Well, it’s gone a little bit past that.

    Anyway, long-time readers will know I don’t have names for quite a number of the cues, mainly the Jack Shaindlin pieces from the Langlois Filmusic library. The late Earl Kress had them but he never was able to remember where he put the list. There are several others, one of which is a little sweet potato “toodle-oodle” cue that found its way into Augie Doggie cartoons—“Mars Little Precious,” “Yuk-Yuk Duck,” and “Peck O’ Trouble.”

    Well, the identity of the cue has been discovered.

    We have the greatest readers here. Evan Schad alerted me to a disc of a Hecky Krasnow cue called The Happy Cobbler that’s kicking around. Hermann “Hecky” Krasnow was involved with the Sam Fox library, which was used in a number of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I checked out the label on the disc and discovered the flip side was another Krasnow cue called Swinging Ghosts. A little search on the internet for a tune by that name and... you guessed correctly. It was copyrighted on January 9, 1959, so it was a new tune when Augie first aired.

    Both songs weren’t only found on the Sam Fox library (known as Synchro-Fox in Canada and Synchro in Britain). They were released on the Gallant label in April 1960 by the Hecky Kay Octet. I can’t find any indication that they charted, but the flip side was recorded by several groups. Perhaps some day we’ll be able to post links to both cues on the blog but this will have to do for now.

    One spot on the internet says it was the theme to the BBC series A Mask For Alexis.



    And another version by The Vampires. It features a flute instead of an ocarina.


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  • 04/14/16--06:31: The Cry of Pinky
  • We’ve used up our supply of complete storyboards, but still have some spare story panels around. Here are three sheets from the Ruff and Reddy cartoon Hot Shot’s Plot, the second adventure in the series. Our heroes try to help Pinky the elephant find his mother in Africa while avoiding hunter Harry Safari (they succeed thanks to a lion and a jammed rifle).

    It looks like Joe Barbera’s writing on the dialogue below the panels but I don’t know if he did the drawings. I don’t think they’re Dan Gordon’s.



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  • 04/16/16--06:52: Snagglepuss – One Two Many
  • Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Don Towsley, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Snaggletooth – Daws Butler; Lila – Jean Vander Pyl; Mouse – ?
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
    Plot: Snagglepuss’ twin brother Snaggletooth pays a visit, confusing the scheming, husband-hunting Lila.

    Mike Maltese mixes together some pretty good elements in this cartoon, including the shrewish, selfish Lila in her final appearance. We get Snagglepuss, the merry confirmed bachelor. We get his twin brother Snaggletooth, who is ready to marry Lila if it means he can get his paws on her wealth (and for no other reason). Toss in the old mistaken-identity element and we get kind of a bedroom farce without the sex. Snagglepuss wants Lila out of the house. Snaggletooth wants her in. At no time does she realise she’s dealing with twin brothers; she thinks she’s wooing “that not too terribly homely bachelor” Snagglepuss. It’s a nice little plot.

    Maltese managed to fit in fun dialogue routines in most of his cartoons for Hanna-Barbera and this one’s no exception. The best of it comes at the start of the action, when Lila pretends a hunter is after her so Snagglepuss will take her in and thus be ripe to be guilt-tripped into a marriage. Lila fires a rifle in the air and screams.


    Snagglepuss: Sounds like someone’s scrapin’ a rusty nail across a blackboard.
    Lila: Oh, won’t you save me from the hunter, kind sir? (skids to a stop and poses coyly) My name is Lila, I’m single, love dancing, lions and sports, and have a kind disposition.
    Snagglepuss: Couldn’t you to go the YWCA, er somethin’?
    Lila: I prefer it here.
    Snagglepuss: But, but, but, but...
    Lila (cutting him off): I insist!

    Once inside...

    Lila: My, what a dusty house. It needs a woman’s touch.
    Snagglepuss: I do believe the hunter’s gone. You may go now. Leave, even.
    Lila: Say, are you hinting that I leave?
    Snagglepuss: Heavens to Murgatroyd, no. I’m not hintin’. I’m tellin’ ya outright. Go! Git, even!

    At this point, Lila fakes a fainting spell. In a way, she really deserves to get screwed around by the equally-scheming Snaggletooth, who unexpectedly arrives on the scene, but Snagglepuss comes out the worst of it through much of the cartoon, stuff tossed at him and being bashed with a broom. He tries to get rid of her using a mouse which bears a striking resemblance to other Hanna-Barbera meeces, and a “writ of Evictus Delicatessen” (Maltese adds a small-time vaudeville groaner when Lila says “I thought you were going for egg foo yung” and Snagglepuss replies “Don’t believe I know the Oriental gentleman.”). Lila finally rushes out of the home, borrowing from the Snagglepuss vernacular: “So exit-uh, single-blissing it all the way-uh, stage-left-uh!”

    Jean Vander Pyl does a tremendous job as Lila using a lowbrow, New York-ish accent (Maltese was born in a not exactly highbrow part of New York and had written for the New York-ish Bugs Bunny).

    This cartoon was animated by Don Towsley, who is not content to let characters stand and blab. He employs gestures and clenched fists.



    Towsley has some interesting curved body holds before a character zips out of the frame. He also has characters look straight into the camera when talking to the audience, not with the head at a bit of an angle.



    Some dry brushwork by the Hanna-Barbera ink and paint department.



    And here’s an endless run cycle. There are four drawings in the cycle, each held for two frames (eight frames). There are 16 frames from the start to the end of the background drawing, meaning the cycle repeats twice before the background repeats. This is a slowed down version.



    Donald Frank G. Towsley was born May 11, 1912 in Wisconsin (likely in Kaukauna) to LaFayette Frank and Frances G. (Reich) Towsley. The family was in Atlanta by 1920 and Los Angeles by 1930 (Towsley’s parents had separated). Towsley had a job as a clerk in 1932 but began work at Walt Disney in the mid-‘30s, animating on Donald Duck cartoons and features. He seems to have left the studio around 1947. Bob Clampett hired him to supervise the animation on his one cartoon for Republic, It’s a Grand Old Nag. Towsley then went into commercial work. He was employed at Lee Blair’s Film Graphics, Inc. in New York, animating on the TB warning film Rodney (copyright March 23, 1951) and directing The Village and the School (1954). He showed up at Hanna-Barbera around 1961 but was gone by the end of the year. Towsley died in Los Angeles on November 25, 1986.

    John Freeman is the story director and I don’t know if he’s responsible for this but there’s a really abrupt cut in the opening. There’s a shot of the outside of Snagglepuss’ cave and the camera trucks back on the drawing. Suddenly, there’s a cut to a close-up. It would have looked better if the camera stopped trucking and then cut to the next scene.

    And, finally, one other piece of Maltesean dialogue: “Then I shall fuhly shorth. Or is it silly forth? Or nelly fifth?”

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    Gene Hazelton’s letterer was starting to experiment with calligraphy in the Flintstones’ Sunday comics about 50 years ago. We saw one example in one of the Sundays in March 1966 and we can see more examples the following month.

    I wonder if Gene was renovating his home around this time. Three of the four comics have to do with house repairs and bills.

    I like the sour notes in the silhouetted third panel of the April 3rd comic. The clamshell/bell on the dial phone in the April 10th comic is imaginative (I’m sure the TV series had the same thing) and Baby Puss makes an appearance in an interestingly laid-out opening panel on April 17th. Nice end gag, too. Note the dinosaur off into the distance.

    Pebbles shows up in two of the four comics, and only incidentally. Barney and Betty are absent altogether. The focus this month is on grouchy Fred.

    Try to ignore the skunk stripe down the middle of the page. These are the only scans I can find.


    April 3, 1966


    April 10, 1966


    April 17, 1966


    April 24, 1966

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  • 04/23/16--07:21: View-Master Views
  • Cartoons and comic books weren’t the only media where you’d find little adventures of the great early Hanna-Barbera characters. You’d find them on View-Master reels as well.

    When I was a kid, it took a little bit of getting used to seeing Huck and Yogi in a 3D-like setting after watching them running around flat on TV, but the layouts of the reels are really enjoyable and the craftsmanship is something to marvel at. Eventually, View-Master went to drawings instead of what I guess were little sets but they’re still good.

    Could Hanna-Barbera have pulled off, say, a seven-minute Huckleberry Hound cartoon in stop motion, with designs like you see in the View-Master frames? Probably. After all, Gumby was airing at the same time as the original Huck show. And since someone will mention it if I don’t, there was the very imaginative dream sequence in Flintstones on the Rocks where Carlo Vinci’s animation in The Flintstone Flyer was a partial inspiration behind a really fun piece of stop-motion work, arguably the best part of the whole show.

    Some of these have been posted here before. They’re provided courtesy of Scott Awley, Dom Giansante and Eric Steadman. I believe Scott went to the trouble of cleaning up a couple of these frames. This is not an attempt to post all the H-B reels but, yes, a fully-restored set of the frames (maybe in a book) would be nice.



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  • 04/27/16--07:00: TV Guide Guides You To Huck
  • Huckleberry Hound was the Ike Eisenhower of cartoons. “I Like Ike” went the saying. And it seems everyone liked Huck, too (and come to think of it, he did run for president, didn’t he?).

    The Huckleberry Hound Show garnered all kinds of favourable reviews shortly after it debuted in fall 1958. We’ve posted a number of them here. There’s one we missed, though, published in the June 25, 1960 edition of TV Guide. Someone who didn’t miss it is everyone’s favourite cartoon historian, Jerry Beck, who has passed it on.

    This wasn’t the first time the magazine had written about Hanna-Barbera. It had published a profile of the Quick Draw McGraw Show in its January 23, 1960 edition (with colour frame grabs or set-ups, no less).

    Why was Huck so appealing? The unbylined writer pretty much nails it, as did the other reviewers we’ve read. The show was well-designed, the characters sounded funny and were in funny situations. The writing by Warren Foster and Mike Maltese didn’t talk down to kids and was amusing enough for adults (and pretty clever at times) to draw their attention.

    Here’s the article. My thanks to Jerry for passing this on so you could read it.


    Cartoons are funnier than people. This is something Walt Disney tacitly acknowledges every time he pats his bank book. For further evidence, talk to viewers of Huckleberry Hound, an animated series now being shown on some 180 stations around the country.
    The appeal of this weekly half-hour is impossible to pinpoint. For example, the program was nominated for an Emmy by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the category covering children’s shows. Yet the adults who watch the show are its most avid boosters. Give a Hound fan (and the writer obviously is one) an opening and he’ll overwhelm you with futile attempts to re-create in words and gestures what he’s seen on TV.
    Like the time Yogi Bear and his little pal Boo Boo crashed the father-son picnic at Jellystone Park. You see, Yogi and Boo Boo are bears and they live in the park and they make life miserable for the park rangers. And are they funny. Honest.
    They call the show Huckleberry Hound because that’s the name of the emcee, who happens to be a dog who talks like Andy Griffith. (Yogi, he talks like Art Carney’s Ed Norton). Huck has his own adventures on the show too. Like the time he tried to hold a barbecue in his back yard and another pooch kept stealing the steak. A howl.
    Yogi and Huck share the 30 minutes with Pixie and Dixie, who are two mice. These mice—and the sensible plural, meeces, is used on the show to refer to them—make life a veritable dog-pound for a cat named Jinks (he talks like Marlon Brando).
    There was the time Jinks got this robot cat to help him catch P. and D., and . . . well, you just gotta see the show.
    If the plots sound juvenile, it’s because they are—in the wonderful tradition of the fantasy world of the cartoon. Anything can happen and it does. Defiance of gravity, harmless falls from great heights, complete disregard for time—all the ingredients are there, plus a fine sense of what human nature is all about. Children like the show because of the action and the animals. Violence is present, but in a context so unreal that children recognize it in these situations for the painless foolishness it is. Adults like the show for its subtleties, its commentary on human foibles, its ineffable humor.
    The cartoons are drawn in a fine clean hand by a team of talented wits named Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created Ruff and Reddy in 1957, and Huckleberry Hound in 1958. They are represented this year by the animated Quick Draw McGraw, a satirical look at some of television’s best-loved formats. The voices, incidentally, are done for the most part by Daws Butler (he’s Yogi, Huck and Jinks) and Don Messick, who does Boo Boo.
    Next season Hanna and Barbera will be bringing us The Flintstones, animated humans in the half-hour format in evening time. Situation-comedy people, look to your ratings.

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  • 04/30/16--06:43: Boo Boo and the V.I.V.
  • Boo Boo never got the spotlight in the Yogi Bear cartoons on TV (though Carlo Vinci gave him some fine angular poses in The Buzzin’ Bruin) but he did in one of the Whitman books called Boo Boo and the V.I.V., printed in 1965 by Western Printing.

    The illustrator was George DeSantis, who also drew a Golden Book published that year called The Flintstones Meet the Gruesomes and another for Whitman the previous year entitled Pebbles Flintstone Runaway. His name appears in other children’s books of the mid-‘60s but I don’t know anything about him.

    His designs of Boo Boo and Yogi are attractive. His Ranger Smith is more stylised than what was in the newspaper cartoons of the time and his other animals are not in the Hanna-Barbera style at all. I really like the foxes.

    You can click on the double pages to make them bigger.



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    Yes, Yogi Bear can talk. And, yes, he eats sandwiches, pizzas and roast chickens (and puts ketchup on his “fillet mignonnies”). And, yes, he can drive a jeep and pilot a helicopter. I can accept all that. But, for some reason, I find it hard to accept that centaurs and centaurettes are living in Jellystone Park. Or even visiting.

    But that’s what we see in the Yogi colour comic for the first weekend of May 50 years ago.


    I’d love to know what inspired Gene Hazelton or one of his freelance writers to come up with such an odd, one-off idea. It’s a strange comic. The opening panel reads “By Hanna-Barbera” instead of “Hanna-Barbera’s”, then poppies suddenly appear by going “Ping.” (Poppies? Hmmm). The May 1, 1966 comic ends with both Yogi and a centaur being being hauled off to what they euphemistically called a “rest home” back then.


    Yogi’s back to his old self in the May 8th comic, and so is the Hanna-Barbera world. Bill Hanna’s beloved Cub Scouts make another über-cute appearance, as does one of those native stereotypes that seems to inhabit the park. Yogi is rhyming again and a bad pun ends the story. Nary a centaur to be spotted.


    A nice Yogi tip-toe drawing ends the May 15th comic with a parrot that you just know would sound like Mel Blanc if this were animated. No need for Ranger Smith when you have “Ranger General” (the military rank given rangers is something idiosyncratic to the newspaper comics).


    Here’s where the poor scans by whoever put these on-line really hurt. I’d love to get a better view of the drag racer in the May 22nd comic. Excellent work. Mel Blanc would probably drag out his Frito Bandito voice if this story had been animated. Observe Boo Boo with the hand-to-side-of-head laugh in the final panel. This may be the first Hanna-Barbera comic where diarrhoea is a punch-line.


    The May 29th comic includes the Cub Scouts again and some Yogi ingenuity. It seems odd for Boo Boo to make fun of Ranger Smith’s pain; the ranger certainly doesn’t appreciate it. This striped scan is the best version I can find.

    Click on any of the comics to see them better.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Dog Catcher, Hunter, Fibber Fox – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Plot: Chopper gives Yakky a whistle to use when he needs help.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions

    In The Bodyguard, Jerry the mouse helps Butch the bulldog escape from a dog catcher and, in return, promises to run to him for help if he just whistles. 17 years later, the same plot gets revisited in this cartoon. The difference is the dog in this case (Chopper) gives Yakky Doodle a real whistle to blow for assistance.

    Actually, the best version of this plotline was in the great Tex Avery cartoon Bad Luck Blackie (1949), written by Rich Hogan. It’s really unfair to compare a TV cartoon to one of Avery’s greatest pieces of work but Whistle-Stop and Go is plain lame. The clever Mike Maltese just didn’t seem to be terribly inspired by Bill and Joe’s fetish for a little duck.

    There’s a sequence where a hunter is trying to get a bead on Yakky, who is jumping up and down blowing his whistle. Chopper rushes into the scene. He grabs Yakky and pulls him away just as the hunter fires and misses. “Are ya hurt, little feller?” asks Chopper. Yakky just shakes his head. Maltese couldn’t be bothered to even work up a quip like he wrote so well at Warner Bros. and for Hanna-Barbera on Quick Draw McGraw. There’s nothing funny or amusing in the whole sequence. Maltese doesn’t even try. It’s like the first half of the cartoon is a long set-up with no pay-off.

    One of the things that keeps this cartoon from being a total loss is the appearance of Fibber Fox. I’ve always liked Fibber’s resignation to his fate and how he comments to the audience about it. “Can you guess what’s going to happen now?” he says to us after unexpectedly attracting the revengeful Chopper with a magnet instead of Yakky’s whistle. About 20 frames later—punch in the nose! The ending’s good, too, as Yakky tricks Fibber into being swooped away by the dog catcher (a faint echo of Maltese’s Hubie and Bertie cartoons at Warners. Now if Yakky had played head-games like those two mice, we would have a really good series).

    This is a cartoon that will drive continuity freaks nuts. It tells a story of how Chopper and Yakky first met. Except there was at least one other cartoon which did the same thing. How can that be? Simple. No one cared about that kind of stuff then. No one kept track of it. There was no need to. As Yakky writer Tony Benedict puts it: “There were no bibles back then.” Writers were free to create whatever they wanted outside of the basics.

    One of the fine veterans of the industry animated this cartoon. You can tell Art Davis’ animation in some of the Hanna-Barbera animal cartoons by the tight curved smile or grin that goes way up into the head. There’s sometimes a little row of teeth.



    And some exit-from-scene drawings. The first pair are consecutive frames.



    Dick Thomas’ backgrounds feature sketchy grass patches and outlines around bush foliage. For a change, his sky isn’t blue. He uses a drab shade of green. He adds a bit of bright colouring on the flowers to avoid everything looking like part of the same palette.

    Joe Ruby, or whoever did the sound cutting on this, inserts Hoyt Curtin’s versions of “Strolling Through the Park One Day,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and the William Tell Overture, along with some familiar bassoon cues from other cartoons around this time. And the soundtrack features the standard “Ain’t that cute!” and “Close your little eyes, Yakky. You shouldn’t oughta see...” catchphrases.

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